Volta vól´tə [key], river, c.290 mi (470 km) long, formed in central Ghana, W Africa, by the confluence of the Black Volta (or Mouhon, c.840 mi/1,350 km long) and the White Volta (or Nakambe, c.450 mi/720 km long), both of which rise in Burkina Faso. The river flows generally south, through a large delta, to the Gulf of Guinea at Ada. The Volta River system drains c.150,000 sq mi (388,500 sq km). Lake Volta (c.3,275 sq mi/8,480 sq km), one of the world's largest artificial lakes, extends c.280 mi (450 km) upstream behind Akosombo Dam, SE Ghana, in the Ajena Gorge. The dam (370 ft/113 m high; completed 1965), the principal unit of the Volta Development Project, regulates the flow of the Volta River, stores water for irrigation, and generates hydroelectricity (750,000-kW capacity) that supports a large aluminum industry. The lake has submerged all of the Volta above the dam as well as the lower Black Volta and White Volta. Since the 1980s, droughts have at times reduced the water impounded by the dam and diminished the electricity that can be generated. The Kpong Dam is on the Volta in SE Ghana below the Akosombo Dam, and the Bui Dam is on the Black Volta in W Ghana above Lake Volta.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: African Physical Geography